President Donald Trump said he is open to looking at a toxic botanical plant extract as a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatment.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell promoted the said plant extract as a treatment for COVID-19. However, the said plant extract has no medical studies to show its safety and effectiveness.

Trump said he is currently not urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow the use of oleandrin to treat the virus. But he said in a report: "Is it something that people are talking about very strongly? We'll look at it." 

Medical ethnobotanist Cassandra Quave said the oleander plant is extremely poisonous. If eaten, it causes cardiac arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats. It can also be lethal to both humans and animals.

Lindell, whom the president considers a supporter from day one, joined the board of Phoenix Biotechnology last week. The company seeks to develop the said plant extract and market the product. But Lindell does not have any scientific background.

Lindell said the CEO of the company, Andrew Whitney, reached out to him to promote the plant extract as a cure.

Reports noted that Lindell scheduled a meeting, allowing Whitney to pitch the said plant extract to Trump in person at the White House. Lindell said he had been taking the plant extract since April and called it "the miracle of all time."

He claimed that it had been tested on humans but offered no evidence of this. An unpublished study examined the effects of oleandrin on African green monkey cells in a test tube and found out that it "greatly" reduced virus production.

A virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Dr. Scott Weaver, said the lab results are only the first step and do not necessarily tell that a drug made from the plant extract could be an effective COVID-19 treatment.

Quave, who is not involved in the study, said the test does not address the extract's cardiac toxicity when consumed by an animal or human. She noted that some might ingest the plan, hoping to cure COVID-19.

"It is critical that the Food and Drug Administration and its commissioner, Dr. Stephen Hahn, make certain the public is protected from this poison," Quave said.

Whitney said the study is awaiting to be peer-reviewed. He reportedly aimed to get FDA approval to sell it as a dietary supplement. 


Oleandrin is an extract from the highly toxic oleander plant. It is an evergreen shrub native to northern Africa, eastern Mediterranean, and Southeast Asia.

It has been used as a traditional medicine to treat hemorrhoids, ulcers, leprosy, and an abortifacient or a drug that can be used to induce abortions. However, it has no evidence that it is safe or effective for any of these medicinal purposes.

Just one leaf from the plant can be dangerous enough. Poisoning symptoms occur several hours after ingesting it.

The symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, skin turning blue, low blood pressure, low body temperature, and respiratory paralysis. 

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